THE Federal Government, yesterday, began fresh moves to woo members of the Academy Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, back to the negotiation table.
The development follows the indefinite strike embarked upon by the union Sunday night, after its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting held in Akure, Ondo State.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, at a briefing in his office, attributed the delays in meeting some of the demands projected by ASUU on weak financial base of the Federal Government, noting that previous administrations made bogus promises to the academic union when the economy was quite buoyant.
ASUU’s current strike is predicated on delays in implementing the Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, all parties allegedly agreed to in the year 2017, including compelling government to conclude the renegotiation of other agreements also collectively reached in 2009.
National President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, while announcing the commencement of the strike, had re-echoed the insincerity of government in meeting their demands. But the minister said he regretted the action of ASUU as he equally shared in their pain. He said:
“I must say that this is difficult to reconcile with all the efforts and positive achievements we have been able to make. “Let me begin by saying that the issues necessitating this strike dates back to 2009 when the then government of late President Umaru Musa Yar Adua signed an agreement with the ASUU on funding of federal universities in the country. Agreement with ASUU was during oil boom -FG
“The agreement provided for funding of universities to the tune of N1.3trillion over a period of six years. It is instructive to know that Nigeria was experiencing the oil boom at that time. It was, therefore, expected that government will be able to meet the terms of agreement.
“However, international oil prices crashed in subsequent years, thereby throwing the country into economic hardship, at the inception of this administration, the country’s economic fortunes worsened, nose diving into recession, with dire consequences on all sectors of the economy, including education.
“We exited recession not too long ago, and we are just beginning to recover from the consequences of low oil prices, which are happily beginning to pick up. ASUU fears clampdown by FG Meanwhile, fresh facts emerged yesterday that the fear of alleged clampdown on the leaders of ASUU, necessitated the relocation of its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting to Ondo State on Sunday.
The meeting was scheduled to hold at Obafemi Awolowo University OAU, Ile- ife before the sudden change for security reasons. This development, according to a leader of the union, was the reason NEC called for the industrial action at about 9:30pm on Sunday, after which the leaders went underground for fear of being arrested by security operatives.
National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, had announced the commencement of an indefinite strike after the National Executive Council meeting of the union which was held of campus at Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA. Ogunyemi said the union embarked on the action, following the failure of the Federal Government to implement the Memorandum of Action signed with it. Also speaking yesterday on Channels Television programme, Sunrise, Prof. Ogunyemi said:
“We have concluded that promises from the government are very cheap. We are not bothered about what promises the government makes now,” he said. UNILORIN, Kwara varsity boycott strike However, ASUU at UNILORIN and Kwara State University opted out of the strike. Contacted, chairman of UNILORIN-ASUU,
Dr. Usman Raheem, said the chapter was not on strike. Similarly, at Kwara State University, Malete, KWASU officials of the institution said there was no reason for the teachers to join the strike since they had not always done so in the past.